(Reuters) – Looking back is a waste of time, as far as Roger Federer is concerned.
While tennis fans and pundits are obsessed with his below-par performance at the four majors this year which has left him in danger of missing the cut for the season-ending ATP finale for the first time since 2001, Federer has already put a positive spin on his 2013 trials and tribulations.
“I always knew that this year, after a very tough year in 2012, the Olympics (and winning Wimbledon), was going to be a bit more quiet,” the Swiss told reporters in Shanghai on Monday after winning his first-round doubles match with little-known Chinese Zhang Ze.
“I expected myself probably not to be as successful and as busy playing matches and tournaments.
“My mindset now is, okay, next year is going to be a great year again where I’m not going to have that many points to defend, especially at some very key moments where I consider myself a favourite.
“For that reason I’m really looking forward to 2014 already.”
Federer, who won the last of his record 17 grand slam titles at Wimbledon 15 months ago before scooping a silver at the London Games, went through the 2013 season without reaching a major final for the first time since 2002 and his only success has been at the low-key Halle tournament.
He lost in the Australian Open semi-finals to Andy Murray, fell at the last-eight stage to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the French Open, suffered a shock second-round defeat at Wimbledon to journeyman Sergiy Stakhovsky before losing to Tommy Robredo in the U.S. Open fourth round last month.
“I didn’t want to focus too much on what happened the last two months. The U.S. Open, I hardly ever thought about it if I look back, at the Robredo match,” he said.
“It wasn’t my day. It’s one of those things you just want to move on from.
“I think my game’s been coming back, which has been very important. Now it’s about staying positive and working hard every single day. That’s been the mindset.”
If the over-exuberant fan reaction in Shanghai is anything to go by, the 32-year-old will be the star attraction in China this week even though he has now slipped down the rankings.
Fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet and Milos Raonic are all breathing down his neck and could trip him up in the race to secure a place at the World Tour Finals in London.
World number one Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Murray and Spain’s David Ferrer have already sealed spots for next month’s tournament involving the top eight players.
Currently seventh in the ATP Race, Federer’s job has also been made more difficult as he is slated to meet Djokovic in the Shanghai quarter-finals with only 105 points separating him and ninth-placed Frenchman Gasquet.
“It was the goal at the beginning of the season to qualify for it. I consider it the absolute best of the best tournament out there, so I want to be part of that,” said Federer.
“So it’s extra motivation for me to play well and be part of that great tournament.”
Federer, who trained in intense heat in Dubai before coming to Shanghai, opted not to play a competitive match for over a month following his loss to Robredo in New York.
But much to the delight of the local crowd, he partnered local hero Zhang, ranked 271 in singles and 437 in doubles, to breeze past Kevin Anderson and Dmitry Tursunov 6-2 6-1 to record his first doubles win of 2013.